Saturday, April 19, 2014
Kidd: D-Will 'set the tone' in Game 1
By Mike Mazzeo
Coming off a subpar regular season -- by his standards -- Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams said he was “motivated” going into the 2013-14 playoffs.
It showed in Game 1 of the first-round Eastern Conference postseason series with the Toronto Raptors.
Williams scored 11 of his team-high-tying 24 points in the first quarter, galvanizing the Nets in their 94-87 victory Saturday afternoon at Air Canada Centre.
“He was great. He set the tone,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said. “He came out with high energy, and I thought he was looking to be aggressive and move the ball. But I thought he set the tone early on and he got the guys off to a good start.”
Williams averaged 14.3 points on 11.2 shots per game in the regular season.
On Saturday afternoon, he had 18 points on 17 shots -- by halftime.
Williams, who finished 8-for-20 from the field in 39 minutes, was certainly attacking more than he usually does, driving into the teeth of the defense and getting shots inside the paint.
“A lot of it was how they were playing me, but my teammates were telling me to be aggressive,” Williams said. “When I’m getting in the lane and making things happen, I think we’re a better team. And so I was taking what the defense was giving me, but at the same time I was consciously being aggressive.”
Heading into the game, one of the biggest questions was whether Williams could keep up with Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry, who had outplayed Brooklyn’s $98 million man all season.
But Williams more than held his own, though Lowry finished with 22 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds.
Of course, it was only a year ago that Williams was putting the finishing touches on a blowout win in Game 1 over the Chicago Bulls with a reverse dunk.
Williams averaged 20.6 points and 8.4 assists a game on 42.5 percent shooting in that series, but the Nets were eliminated in seven games on their home floor.
The bottom line: Williams looked nothing like the player that shot 39.8 percent from the field in April. He looked healthy, was aggressive, and as Kidd said, he set the tone early.
Now the Nets just need Williams to keep it up for the rest of the series.
You see, it’s never just been about one game for Williams since his arrival from Utah.
It’s been about consistency.